LOS ANGELES – Herman Cain, whose status as a GOP presidential front-runner had already been rocked by allegations of sexual harassment, denied Monday that he’d had a 13-year consensual affair with an Atlanta businesswoman.
Ginger White told Atlanta news station WAGA-TV that she had a sexual relationship with Cain that began in the late 1990s when he was president of the National Restaurant Association. The affair ended shortly before he jumped into the presidential race this year, she said, but their friendship had continued.
Before White’s allegations had even aired, Cain adamantly denied them in his own interview on CNN. White, he said, is “someone that I know, who is an acquaintance who I thought was a friend.”
White’s account was starkly at odds with Cain’s. “It was pretty simple,” she told WAGA-TV. “It wasn’t complicated. I was aware that he was married. And I was also aware that I was involved in a very inappropriate situation, relationship.”
According to a report on the station’s website, White said she came forward because someone who knew her had contacted various media outlets about the affair.
“I wanted to give my side, before it was thrown out there and made out to be something filthy,” she told WAGA-TV reporter Dale Russell.
Though White said her relationship with Cain was consensual, she said she was bothered by Cain’s treatment of women who in recent weeks have claimed to have been sexually harassed by him when he headed the restaurant lobby group from 1996 to 1999.
“It bothered me that they were being demonized, sort of,” she said.
White, described by the station as a single mother who settled a sexual harassment claim against an employer in 2001 and declared bankruptcy 23 years ago, said she began a relationship with Cain in the late 1990s in Louisville, Ky., where Cain had a speaking engagement. He invited her to his hotel room after they had drinks, she claimed.
“I’d like to see you again,” she said Cain told her, and invited her to Palm Springs, Calif. She said Cain flew her to cities where he was speaking and lavished her with gifts. She said he also gave her inscribed copies of his motivational books.
White produced her cellphone bills, which included 61 calls or text messages to what she said was Cain’s personal cellphone, with the most recent taking place in September. The TV station texted the number and Cain returned the call.